Basic Skepticism for Anti-Scientologists

Basic Skepticism

This book by Michael Shermer Teaches Basic Skepticism and How People Come to Create Their Beliefs

I’ve been debating the marauding Internet anti-Scientologists who have descended upon Andy Nolch’s YouTube channel over the last few days, and it’s been a lot of fun.

I used to be a marauding Internet Anti-Scientologist myself. Back in my day though, there weren’t as many of us. All the recent media on Scientology has really swelled their ranks. And they are more cock-sure of themselves than I have ever seen them.

It kinda sucks that I’m no longer part of that tribe because, as an Anti-Scientologist, this was the future that I always dreamed of: legions of us descending on anyone who says they are a Scientologist and ripping them to shreds. Splattering them with all kinds of nasty information exposing L Ron Hubbard’s and David Miscavige’s utter depravity. And generally browbeating a Scientologist into seeing how “wrong” he is to be one.

So I’m really missing out on a present that I helped to create in the past.

Story of my life, I guess.

What have I been doing instead?

I’ve been practicing Basic Skepticism on Anti-Scientologists.

Here’s how it works:

Basic skepticism requires 2 simple skills –

  1. Recognizing when a claim is being presented for you to accept.
  2. Asking for, or looking for, positive evidence in support of that claim.

Step 1 is very important. Sometimes people make claims and you don’t recognize that a claim is being made. This can lead you to accepting the claim without really noticing it. So here are some examples of claims that Anti-Scientologists routinely make about Scientology:

The Training Routines (TRs) in Scientology produce a hypnotic trance.

Scientology is a criminal organization.

The bad outweighs the good in Scientology, therefore it’s all bad.

Scientology is a CON and a SCAM

Scientologists are gullible.

David Miscavige is short.

If you go back in time on my own blog here, you will find me asserting almost every one of those claims. The recent shift in my perspective over the last couple of years has come as a result of my learning and applying basic skepticism to my own claims.

Once you recognize that a claim is being made – whether you agree with it or not – apply Step 2: Asking for, or looking for, positive evidence in support of that claim.

As an example, let’s take the first claim above:

The Training Routines (TRs) in Scientology produce a hypnotic trance in people who practice them.

When you apply step 2 to the claim, you will only be looking for evidence that positively supports that claim. You will not be looking for a negation of the claim, such as “No it doesn’t! I applied TRs and I felt quite refreshed afterward!” That’s simply a counter claim, and pursuing that ignores the evidence in support of the original.

So ignore counter claims and focus directly on the claim. You want to see positive evidence in support of that claim which demonstrates “The TRs produce a hypnotic trance.”

For this particular claim, you would need to first define exactly what a hypnotic trance is. Then you would need to look for, or ask for, the evidence that people who practice the TRs – as they are written in Scientology – enter a hypnotic trance exactly as you have defined it.

Are you starting to get the picture here?

It’s easy to believe a claim. That’s the easiest thing in the world. People normally believe claims because the claim feels good to believe it (Truthiness), or because the claim is consistent with their existing worldview (Confirmation Bias).

But to prove that a claim is true with positive evidence that supports that claim?

That’s a little different. And quite a bit harder. During the process of Step 2, your thinking changes. You realize the difficulty of the claim, and that its related issues aren’t so simple at all. You begin to see the problems associated with the claim.

Your feeling of certainty begins to wane. You see the complexities surrounding it. And you grow up a little. The boiling temperature of your blood recedes and you actually start to feel more peaceful.

So shouldn’t you apply Basic Skepticism to the claims of Anti-Scientology before you work yourself into an hysterical lather and launch marauding campaigns all over the Internet, shoving your beliefs down everyone’s throats?

Obviously, because I myself have engaged in such behavior in the past as an Anti-Scientologist, I didn’t used to think so.

But I’ve learned, and now I think it’s important to apply Basic Skepticism to the claims of Anti-Scientology.

So I am passing this simple but completely subversive critical thinking skill over to my friends in the Anti-Scientology Tribe.

Do you think they’ll use it?

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47 Comments on "Basic Skepticism for Anti-Scientologists"

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Patti
Guest

No. The certainty is strong in them, they are infected with the joy of certainty, and they are anxious to pass it on. Unfortunately the people who were attracted to Scientology like the feeling of certainty. They are like addicts. I share that addiction but also crave the free falling feeling of uncertainty. Odd isn’t it?

Eileen
Guest

Hi Patti,
I agree. Uncertainty is so freeing! I bog down in certainty too often.
Your theory that people who are attracted to Scientology like the feeling of certainty is interesting, I have often wondered whether that is true.
When I was recruited for Scientology (1970s Cambridge MA) the (very good looking) man told me that if the young man I was with did not take Scientology courses he would kill himself in his 30’s. I “blew” from Scientology at that moment, because common sense said that the recruiter could not possibly be so absolutely “certain”. I have been married to that young man for 44 years, so I’m glad I didn’t listen.
That moment has always made me angry, it would have been very easy to believe and maybe even break up based on the recruiter’s certainty.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

It’s weird, isn’t it, that a lot of people can’t seem to have both uncertainties and certainties in their lives. Like Patti said, they both have their merits. I think scientologists get confused on the idea of total certainty, thinking (or maybe believing) that it means that the world and all people in it, are some sort of freeze-framed shadow box with no surprises, no uncertainties. To me, the only really useful certainty is a faith in self enough to EXPLORE the world’s changing faces and not needing everything and everyone locked down. Maybe I’m just weird. lol

Eileen
Guest

You are right, I think.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

Now I gotta go check out the great Alanzo debates at Andy Nolch’s…

Richard
Guest

I must be on the same wavelength as you, Alanzo. Just before reading this topic today I was looking at Mike Rinder’s blog. Someone included in their comment that LRH had average intelligence.

I’m no defender of scn or LRH, but just for the hell of it I replied:

“I don’t know if I go along with Elron being just average intelligence. He wrote and said a whole lot of things about a whole lot of subjects. It’s the subject of blog critiques about what was junk and what was, perhaps, brilliant.”

Am I turning OSA!? (joke)

Richard
Guest

Hmm – This might relate to the topic. Adyashanti, a nondualism teacher, has some new posts on youtube, “adyashanti 2017”. I had fun with a 9 minute one called “Discovering a Sense of Renewal”. At the beginning he says, paraphrased:

“The spiritual traditions and spiritual teachings over many, many centuries have talked about the unknown. What they’re really talking about is this kind of renewal. We make the unknown into something. We can even make up a term like “The Unknown” and before you know it, there’s this place called the unknown which you have to find.” He laughs, I laughed.

certainty/uncertainty;the known/the unknown There might be some comparisons.

Gib
Guest

I’ll start out by commenting on your last point of six which is:

“David Miscavige is short.”

This is true if everybody is taller than David Miscavige.

Doloras LaPicho
Guest

It is reported on the authority of Tony Ortega quoting someone whose name I forget quoting DM’s tailor that DM is 5 foot 1 1/2 inches tall. That’s… shorter than most.

John Doe
Guest

Scientology seems to build upon itself. You can accept some early premises, and have wins with them, which encourages you to find more premises to accept, so that you can have more wins. And this is not limited to just scn either.

Several years before the bubble of scn cracked open for me, I noticed how often promotional flyers aimed at existing scientologists had the word “certainty” in it:

“Gain certainty as an auditor– do the briefing course.”

“On the pro metering course, you will gain complete certainty using the emeter…”

“Achieve total certainty of yourself as an immortal spiritual being…”

These primo pieces were surveyed and this “certainty button” must have come up over and over.

Gib
Guest

repetition is one of the means of creating a “crowd” per Le Bon’s book which Hubbard read. Alanzo calls this “tribal”.

Richard
Guest

Gib – You or someone else once posted Le Bon’s book on Marty’s blog. I read parts of it – very interesting. Do you have a link?
As I recall, in one part it describes how one person describes an event inaccurately, and then the rest of the “crowd” also “sees” it falsely.

Gib
Guest

since you read parts of it, then just google it again. It’s freely available to read as a PDF.

The most important chapter is:

Book 2, Chapter 3: The Leaders of Crowds and Their Means of Persuasion.

All I’m saying is hubbard read that book and decide for yourself if Hubbard used what Le Bon said in his policy letters and HCOB’s and books and lectures.

Richard
Guest

Gustave Le Bon 1841-1931 “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”
Google sends me to Amazon. I’m not that interested.
Hubbard was well versed in crowd psychology, rhetoric and hypnotism. He was well prepared to start his own cult.

Gib
Guest

lol Richard, I give you a flunk for poor research. All I did again and have many times is just type into google “the crowd pdf le bon” and here is what google gives, you can give other variations and get different pdf’s from different sources of the book:

https://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/lebon/Crowds.pdf

Richard
Guest

Thanks Gib – I’m “not internet dependent” which is the positive way of saying I’m an internet dummy. I get by. Wazza pee dee ef? (joke)
I have to admire the breadth and depth of Elron’s studies. I’m tracking him and will release my own cult soon. I need to collaborate with Alanzo and others on the blog. Care to join?

Richard
Guest

We’ll call it the Church Of Scientology Tolerance, or COST for short. Alanzo will be adding a Donate button soon. We’ll all become millionaires.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

It’s that where the CNA – Collapsed Narcissist Anonymous – meetings will be held?

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

I’ll bet it did. Scientology isn’t the only ones I have seen do this…what would I call it…covert emphasis on the negatives or the ‘nots’, the not certains, the not wants, by slamming CERTAINTY into people’s faces. There’s good kinds of doubt and bad kinds of doubt, the problem is not distinguishing between them and selling NO doubt as some kind of false golden parachute escape route.

Gib
Guest

regarding your other 5 points, which are:

The Training Routines (TRs) in Scientology produce a hypnotic trance.
Scientology is a criminal organization.
The bad outweighs the good in Scientology, therefore it’s all bad.
Scientology is a CON and a SCAM
Scientologists are gullible.

I recall reading some philosopher from earlier days, I forget now, but he basically said after much discussion and debate and thinking, why the subject debated could be boiled down to a overall summary. I think ex scientologists do this on their blog postings since they were involved and now out and make general sweeping statements. Some do not have writing skills to fully express their experiences, and of course “fair game” sits in the way from full expression of their each own experiences, hence reduced down to simple sentences without more words, ie it’s a scam!

Some use banter, which I did not understand at first, I realized I’m not good at banter which a lot of folks use on Tony O blog and other blogs and even ESMB, some of which I don’t get.

You use banter yourself on your own comments to people here, which I do not understand.

I have more words to say on your 5 points.

Richard
Guest

I’m totally done with Scientology. My certainty is now uncertain. Materialistic atheism is boring. Who’s got a new cult they can recommend?

Patti
Guest

noJoinon the discussion

Richard
Guest

I know, Patti. AlanzosBlog is for rational discussion. However, it’s also a valuable thought-dump site for old men in crappy pants like myself.

Eileen
Guest

How about that Church of the Flying Spagetthi Monster? Or Neurotology?

Gib
Guest

regarding your first point which is:

“The Training Routines (TRs) in Scientology produce a hypnotic trance.”

I wasn’t quite sure about that so I decided to research the history of hypnosis, hypnotic, mesmerism, etc. Afterall Hubbard said Dianetics was not hypnosis which puts somebody to sleep whereas Dianetics wakes people up.

So I go down that rabbit hole, wiki gave me the route to read:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_hypnosis

So I start researching and reading the researchers of hypnosis from earlier days, the authors and names of books they wrote and read some of them, all from the viewpoint of how hubbard tricked us.

I came to the conclusion “trance” is the wrong word and even “hypnotic trance”, I think the correct word is agreement. Hubbard called his ARC triangle = understanding. I’ve come to the conclusion ARC= agreement with scientology.

Hubbard said communication was the most important part, but not really if you get how hubbard tricked us, all he did ultimately was to capture agreement and get agreement with his ideas and that is hypnosis, no trance at all.

so yes, I don’t agree with the ARC = understanding.

Zane X
Guest

To this I would also add my own skepticism about the actual motives of most anti-Scientologists, especially the rabid hardline ones that populate ESMB and the Bunker. I could be wrong but back in its heyday when it was busy, OCMB came across as somewhat more reasonable. At least I don’t think there was the kind of cultic attitude so common nowadays, let alone the bizarre idol worship of Master Ortega. Back in the day when Bob Minton was Scientology Enemy #1 and the first person who I’d say was “charismatic” (even flamboyant) in their anti-Scientology zealotry (like the hilarious pickets in front of FLB in Clearwater, which I believe Bunker uploaded to YouTube), he wasn’t the sort to cultivate that kind of blind following. Others may disagree, but off camera he seemed fairly down-to-earth though for the life of me I couldn’t understand why he was investing so much time & money in anti-Scientology activities since he had no background in it (as far as I know) and kind of popped up out of nowhere after the Lisa McPherson flap started becoming a serious media controversy.

That whole thing with Brian Culkin (the yoga guy from Boston, that’s his name, right?) for instance. Guy spends over $300K in just a few months of getting involved with Scientology, wakes up one day and realizes this fact and tries to get his money back to no avail, goes online to talk about his situation and get advice from the folks over at ESMB and so on. I guess at some point the Church comes around and offers him all his money back (was there an additional payout on top of that?) so long as he accepts their terms to stop talking about Scientology and criticizing it online, and naturally, being a sane rational human being, he accepts and then is made out to be the bad guy by ESMB and even Ortega himself who goes to town on the guy.

Now this to me is a serious issue because I’m of the view that if you gave the church money for services that you never used or were not satisfied with the services that were rendered, you should have the right to get that cash back in full without going through all the ridiculous hurdles the church usually throws in the way. And critics, if they actually give a damn as they claim, should be doing everything they can to help those who can’t afford a lawyer with practical advice on how to get that money back. Caulkin spent over $300K, so that makes sense to take that to a lawyer, but for most who spent less than $100K (average based on financial records from various churches I’ve seen seems to be around the $25K-45K range) it just wouldn’t be the worth of trouble and expense of getting a lawyer unless they’re willing to work pro bono, which is rare even though for that amount of money a few letters from a competent attorney are enough to get the church to settle without going to court or taking up too much time. The Luis Garcia situation seems to be an exception to that but I don’t know enough about their case to comment one way or another.

So I think what would be most helpful to those thinking of getting out of the church is assisting with this kind of thing, providing access to attorneys who would be willing to work pro bono or for reasonable cost and so forth, but I’m not seeing that happen. The few times I emailed Ortega to get legal advice or simply even leads or references to attorneys who are familiar with Scientology on behalf of some people I knew, he literally told me off and said unless I was willing to be a snitch for him (at the time I was still working in the SO but planning on leaving at some point) that he wouldn’t waste his time helping anyone trying to get their money back. He made a big deal of being a “journalist” and that “journalists” aren’t in the “business” of helping anyone, they’re in the business of reporting “news” and that if there wasn’t any money in dishing dirt on Scientology, he wouldn’t bother with it. This was not long after he had gotten kicked out of the Village Voice and was blogging on his own. [For those curious, I don’t think I saved any of my email exchanges with him so feel free to disbelieve all of that.]

That kind of attitude disgusts me and it actually made me reconsider leaving the SO and becoming a vocal critic of Scientology because it put everything he and others allied with him in question. In a way he did me a favor because when I finally did leave I just got on with my life instead of wasting time on ESMB and the Bunker. It was this blog that actually got me interested in anti-Scientology soap opera again, but mainly because of the Phil Jones drama that I first posted about it that when I heard about it from Mike Jone’s non-SO friends and was searching online about it because I thought it couldn’t be true his parents would be insane enough to get a billboard(s), but lo and behold, I was wrong and they are really that nuts. I won’t get into that again here though. ;

I’ve got to hand it to you for even bothering with this blog because I don’t think I have a thick enough skin or the balls to confront ESMB and Bunker fanatics on a frequent basis and wade through anti-Scientology hysteria and drivel day after day. Major props to anyone who does.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

Thanks for this. Did Tony Ortega really try to force you – meaning in a tit-for-tat way – into being a snitch for him?

If so, man, does that stink.

This is Alanzos blog, so its his decision if he doesn’t want to have this here, but I for one wasn’t aware of what you’re talking about regarding Mike Jones. May I ask what you are talking about? I had done a posting myself about what I thought about this billboard crap – I was appalled, to put it simply, and I am no fan of scientology but that was just such transparently blatant media posturing that really demonstrated no care whatsoever for their children, in my opinion. And so I found myself in the interesting position of defending a scientologist, the Jones kids.

Since I think that’s part of Alanzo’s point about that these so-called critics need to grow up a little and stop being so fanatical they can’t even see they are AS BAD OR WORSE than some scientologists, I think your perspective could be interesting on the Jones issue.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

oops. Forgot. That was to Zane X.

Claire M Swazey
Guest

I thought OCMB was milder, too, til I participated in there away way worse than ESMB.

Gib
Guest

just addressing the title of your post Alanzo, as a ANTI SCIENTOLOGY person, one day after I left the scintology hubbard created mindset of he was source and figured it all out so I did, myself, did not have to research, why I wondered what is the history of religion, philosophy, knowledge, etc. So I researched.

I didn’t know the ancients were before Christ, so I decided to research.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

Speaking of ancient –

Hi Gib. Thanks for what you said on the other post, I’m glad our first websites helped get you out of scientology. That was our intent.

Gib
Guest

actually I never saw your first websites, it was the Barnes video and you being mentioned and the whole drama of it all.

Virginia McClaughry
Guest

Yea, I was being sort of vaguely all inclusive with that. You know – waving hand “all that stuff from then”. Websites, videos, etc. etc. I probably should have been more specific.

Gib
Guest

no problem, I should define what I mean by ancients, and that is philosophers before Christ such as Plato, Aristotle, etc. I even went so far as asking google the timeline of religion vs philosophy and the difference between them and reading up on it.

I never learned to do such things with my 27 years in scientology until I decided to question.

Claire M Swazey
Guest

I remember those quite well. Virginia did a tremendous service to Scn’ists and exes trying to figure out what on earth was happening on OTVII.

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